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Proc Biol Sci. 2003 February 22; 270(1513): 335–340.
PMCID: PMC1691260

A novel approach to the use of genetically modified herbicide tolerant crops for environmental benefit.


The proposed introduction of genetically modified herbicide tolerant (GMHT) crops, with claims of improved weed control, has prompted fears about possible environmental impacts of their widespread adoption, particularly on arable weeds, insects and associated farmland birds. In response to this, we have developed a novel weed-management system for GMHT sugar beet, based on band spraying, which exploits the flexibility offered by the broad-spectrum partner herbicides. Here, we show the results from two series of field experiments which, taken together, demonstrate that, by using this system, crops can be managed for enhanced weed and insect biomass without compromising yield, thus potentially offering food and shelter to farmland birds and other wildlife. These results could be applicable widely to other row crops, and indicate that creative use of GMHT technology could be a powerful tool for developing more sustainable farming systems in the future.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Donal PF, Gree RE, Heath MF. Agricultural intensification and the collapse of Europe's farmland bird populations. Proc Biol Sci. 2001 Jan 7;268(1462):25–29. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Hails RS. Genetically modified plants - the debate continues. Trends Ecol Evol. 2000 Jan;15(1):14–18. [PubMed]
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